Eight Ways to Develop Your Licensing Lead List

24 08 2016

Whether your licensing interest is focused on art, brands or characters, it is the effort you put into selling that creates your licensing deals. Your greatest sales are achieved when you have a thorough understanding your product (what it is you are trying to license), so that you are able to connect directly to the right audience (most often a manufacturer, retailer or media).

If you are new to licensing, what you first want to do is organize your list of potential product categories and then prioritize them. For your reference, here is a list of product categories and their percentage of licensed merchandise retail sales in the U.S./Canada in 2015, as reported by The Licensing Letter.

SOURCE: THE LICENSING LETTER

SOURCE: THE LICENSING LETTER

Once you have developed a good strategy for your property, in terms of product categories, it will be much easier to direct the growth of your lead list. When looking for prospective manufacturers, there are many opportunities to find them and do research before including them on your list. The more targeted you are in creating your leads, the more manufacturers will respond positively to the opportunities you present.

I hear from manufacturers, over and over again, their number one complaint is that they receive too many presentations that are not relevant to their specific business needs. Do yourself, and the manufacturers you are seeking, a favor by doing your research and targeting your offerings to their business. They will appreciate and recognize your focus, and you will progress faster.

Remember that lead lists are organic in nature; they increase and decrease, again and again, over time. A list of 30 companies may grow to 100, then reduce to 40 leads, as you determine that some of the companies are not, in fact, a match.

Here are eight ways to help you develop your own licensing lead list. Some of them require an investment and others are free, except for your time and effort.

1. Trade Shows — Trade events and their directories exist in every product categories. If you attend a trade show, make sure you bring home the directory or you can ask friends to bring you a copy of the directory from the shows they attend. Sometimes you can even find exhibitor lists, before and after their annual events, on the association and exposition web sites.

Just to see what is out there, I searched the Internet for some of the most popular trade shows in product categories that are important to licensed artists. Within five minutes I found a PDF titled, ‘Exhibitors for the 2016 International Home + Housewares Show.’ This 35-page document included company names, contact information, address, and phone and fax numbers. Needless to say, if you are willing to spend the time, there are always inexpensive ways to get the information you need.

2. Trade Magazines — As you read trade magazines associated with the product categories that you have chosen to target, check out the companies that seem to be a good fit for you and your art, designs, illustrations, brand or characters. Always make notes about their product lines, employees, contact information and licensing deals, so you have the details handy when you are ready to contact them.

3. Shopping — Spend time shopping in retail stores and outlets for the products you want to license. This will be time well spent as you explore manufacturers that are already doing licensing. You will probably also see ‘private label’ products with art and characters; these are the products that don’t readily identify the manufacturer on the product itself. These D-T-R, or Direct-to-Retail, products are often branded under the retail establishment’s label (i.e. Target’s or Walmart’s instore brands) and it may be difficult to find out who manufactured them. There are more and more of these D-T-R’s deals being done every day as stores work harder to have unique product in stores. To identify these manufacturers, it may require a licensing industry agent, retail expert or a professionally compiled lead list.

4. Use the Internet — The Internet continues to be the primary source for researching manufacturers. Although, these days, larger companies are less likely to list their phone numbers and email addresses on their websites, you can still often find the information you want with a little extra effort. And when you get frustrated, just think about how we used to do it before the Internet. I also recommend connecting on LinkedIn with the executives you are trying to reach. Most professionals will consider ‘linking’ to you, since you are in the business, and then you can start a conversation.

5. Networking — Again, thank goodness for the Internet and social media! Now you can talk to other licensed artists and creators through the many specialized social groups on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, as well as at industry events and trade shows. Networking can become a primary source of ideas and leads. If you are open about sharing your connections, then others will do the same.

6. Ask for Recommendations — If a manufacturer doesn’t think you are a good fit for them, ask them what manufacturers they would recommend you talk to (and get the contact information). This is a really overlooked technique that allows you to tap into the brainpower of the manufacturers who know the business best. If you were thoughtful in your presentation, and had relevant reasons why you felt they would be interested, then you didn’t waste their time and the manufacturer may be very open to sharing their thoughts about other licensing partner options.

If you are short on time and have the money to invest, you may want to consider one of the following licensing industry directories.

7. EPM Communications — The Licensing Letter Sourcebook is annually updated to include licensing decision-makers from manufacturing companies, as well as properties, agents, attorneys and consultants. So while it is not an inexpensive resource, and you may use only a fraction of the information, I have found it to be the most reliable in the licensing industry. In the long run, it will save you valuable time and money in getting names, phone numbers and email addresses.

EPM has just announced that their updated 2016 Sourcebook is available. It includes the contact information for more 7,400 licensing professionals worldwide, 2,000 licensors, 3,600 manufacturers, 1,000 licensing agents and 730 attorneys and industry consultants. If you want more information you can contact Randy Cochran at randy@plainlanguagemedia.com and here is a link for more details.

8. Total Guide to the Licensing World — There is a new, less expensive, online database which will be available in October. According to Joanna Cassidy from Total Licensing, their database will include over 2,600 licensees/manufacturers. This is a worldwide licensing industry database with contacts in more than 90 countries, but approximately 30% of the contacts are in the United States. The annual subscription cost will be just under $200 for full access to the Total Guide Guide to the Licensing World. The directory includes 125 word listings, plus all contact information and social media links. If you are interesting in being included in the dirtectory you can email joanna@totallicensing.com or click here for more details.

There are quite a few options for building your lead lists. It really boils down to whether or not you want to spend your time, money or both. I can’t emphasize enough that even having a terrific lead list isn’t enough to get you deals; you have to finely target your list, learn from the manufacturer responses, continually update your list and last, but not least, spend time actually sending the presentations out and following up!

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Fall is Here; Time to Prepare for New Growth

17 09 2015

fall-downFall is a profound time of year for me.  While the leaves of the trees are dying, in reality I know that it is simply preparing itself for renewal. I find the falling leaves a comforting and productive movement.  It feels right to clean out the cobwebs and clutter of our lives and thoughts and shed the old as we get ready for growth. So I went on the internet to look for quotes which express this inherent inspiration.  What I found was a Japanese proverb, not exactly related to autumn, but inspiring, nonetheless. The proverb is: Fall down seven times stand up eight.

So, if it feels like fall is here and you are ready for something new, but aren’t quite sure where to find it, I collected and put together these guiding principles to help you with your endeavors. These will guarantee you make the most of September through November, traditionally a very productive time period, before enjoying the holidays.  I strongly recommend you take advantage of this advice, or before you know it, Christmas and then the New Year will be here (…I mean didn’t summer just fly by? And here it is mid-September already).

Take just a few minutes and review these tips and then answer each ‘biz question,’ as honestly as possible and apply the principles directly to your business.  I am quite sure many or all of them will hit a nerve and create a new connection.

  1. Attitude is everything. – Your frame of mind affects every action (and inaction). Don’t let you’re your moods control your life, or you will be overtaken by the current and forced down stream to a destination you never intended. Only your inner force and self-determination can keep you on track and get you to your ultimate goals.
    Biz question: Is there anything I need to change about my attitude, perspective or life to improve my business? If so, what?
  1. Stay focused on your goals. – It takes belief and a strong desire to concentrate on the changes necessary to achieve success. If your goals are clear, then it is easier to stay focused.  So begin by clarifying your goals before you get so frustrated you can’t or won’t take action.  If you are unsure of the process, or the next steps required, then seek the advice you need.
    Biz question: Do you have clear and measurable goals for your business and specifically for this fall time frame?
  1. Spend time wisely. – Time, unlike money, is something that you can’t get back. So every day you want to be as fully present as possible in each task you do, as well as choose those activities with care. Make sure your time and efforts are contributing to the wonderful aspects of your life, relationships and business endeavors.  The worst thing you can do is to spend your time on auto-pilot.  There is very little joy (or productivity, for that matter) in it.
    Biz question: How can I spend my time right now to get the best results for my business, both now and in the future?
  1. Be open-minded. – You never know where the next inspiration, great idea or deal will come from. To be open-minded you need to find ways to stay mindful and aware. Take the time to explore new activities and people and be open to new influences and experiences. A closed mind, frankly, has nowhere to go.
    Biz question: Are you open-minded to the fact that you might not know where the next awesome idea, opportunity or contribution to your business may come from?Picture2
  1. Pick a path. – There are many pathways leading to your ultimate goals. But to get anywhere you need to pick one and stick with it long enough to get there.  Then along that path, there will be many obstacles of varying degrees and nature which require decisions.  One time you may feel that breaking that obstacle down, bit-by-bit, is the right answer.  In another case, going around it works fine.  And sometimes you even have to find a new path. My father used to jokingly say, “You can’t get there from here, you have to start someplace else.”  And often that’s true. If the path dead ends or goes off course, then you MUST find a new way to achieve your goals.
    Biz question: What’s keeping you from achieving your goals?  Can you identify the top five reasons in priority order?
  1. Read between the lines. – Whether you are enjoying this blog, having coffee with friends or meeting with business professionals, reading between the lines is an imperative skill. Always go deeper than the surface. What do you need to learn, know or understand about what’s happening to get the most from the experience? Everything is happening for a reason and seeking the essence and purpose of the moment may be exactly what you should be doing to find the wisdom you need.
    Biz question: Can you look beyond the obvious tasks throughout your day and find the non-apparent insights that provide guidance for your business?
  1. Never lose hope. – Hope is the energy that drives all ambition and motivation. It is an essential element in all our endeavors and losing hope is like losing your engine. You must constantly be on guard against the negative emotions that deplete hope and eventually will prevent you from succeeding. No matter what the challenge; don’t  give up.
    Biz question: Can you identify your hope and how it powers your progress in business?  If hope is waning, what can you do to refuel?
  1. Create awesome habits. – What you do today and every day will become the habits of tomorrow. It’s important to choose actions that create the right habits. Discipline yourself to create the specific habits that you need to grow.
    Biz question: What business habits would you like to create or improve upon that will help achieve your goals? (You might want to read or revisit my blog titled: “An Art Licensor’s Continuing Education” to help you think about the wide variety of topics and skills needed to build a licensing business.)




FREE Ask J’net Q&A Tomorrow; Plus Sales & Trade Show Follow Through Techniques Course

15 06 2015

LE Banner crop versionI used the term whirlwind in yesterday’s blog, referring to the feeling of attending and coming home from the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas.  But now it doesn’t even seem to capture the essence of all the leads, ideas, contacts and knowledge to be learned and shared from a week at the show.  So I am going to change my reference and just call it what it is: a wonderful ‘tornado’ of opportunity!

If you are experiencing the same overwhelming feeling from looking at your notes and leads, combined with the pressure of having to follow-up intelligently on everything, then take a break and listen to the Ask J’net Q&A tomorrow.  This one-hour, live phone event is dedicated to questions about ‘After the Trade Show…’  There is still time to register and get your questions in the mix, so register now and put your question at the bottom of the form.

I think you will find the Ask J’net Q&A really helpful, whether you are sorting and making decisions about how to follow-up with each and every person you met at the Licensing Expo, or whether you walked the show floor or are just thinking about attending Licensing Expo next year and are wondering what to expect.  Both of my classes this week will help you with these processes.

Ask J’net Q&A TOMORROW

Again, my FREE Ask J’net Q&A will focus on ‘After the Trade Show Questions.’  Feel free to ask about:

  • things you saw at the Licensing Expo;
  • trade show events or etiquette that perhaps didn’t make sense to you as a first-timer;
  • things which still confuse you;
  • how to evaluate opportunities
  • how to close deals
  • and how to make the most of your time there through your strategic follow-up.

Ask any questions important to you right now and put them on your registration form. This Ask J’net Q&A is scheduled for  -TOMORROW- Tuesday, June 16th at 10:00 am PDT / 1:00 pm EDT (you will receive your Classroom Access Information at least one-hour before the class). Register Here.

Sales & Trade Show Follow-Through Techniques THIS THURSDAYIMG_0630

You won’t want to miss Sales & Trade Show Follow-Through Techniques. on Thursday, June 18th at 10:00 am PDT / 1:00 pm EDT. This live phone event will be 1.5 hours and the cost is $75. After your purchase, you can attend live or after the event you will receive … an audio (MP3) file, 60+ page PowerPoint presentation (PDF format) and video link to watch the entire class at your convenience. We know everyone has a different way of learning, so we offer more ways to learn than other training events in the licensing industry.

This class has 3 parts which cover the:

  1. Organization of your follow-up, how exactly to
  2. Follow Through carefully and accurately on your leads and
  3. Sales Techniques that will close the deal and grow your business.

You may place your questions on the registration form, and they will be answered during the live event.

The training will focus on the characteristics of licensing sales, which you won’t find in a traditional sales class. You will receive your Classroom Access information the evening before the class, June 17th, via email. Register Here.

Keep asking great questions and you’ll receive the answers, that’s for sure!





Beyond the Booth – Top 10 Countdown – Making the Most of Your Trade Show Experience (Part 2)

22 04 2015

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 11.37.48 AMThis is Part 2, the conclusion, of ‘Beyond the Booth – Top 10 Countdown – Making the Most of Your Trade Show Experience’ 

5. Prepare press releases before AND after the show – This is one of the times you really need to reach out and share your business news and information. Publicity, such as those mentions or articles in magazines, blogs, newspapers, trade publications, are often more credible, believable and profitable than other types of exposure. Before the show it’s important to make sure everyone knows you will be attending, where to find you, and what you have to offer. After the show, it’s time to share the news about your accomplishments and executed deals.

4. Create a promo video – Videos are one of the most powerful and persuasive marketing tools available today. Keep in mind that a moving presentation overview draws in prospective clients, but be sure to share with them with your more detailed follow-up material when it comes to your one-on-one meetings. Try to format your videos for as many different platforms as possible. Videos can be used on booth monitors and on tablets and smartphones for impromptu presentations outside your booth, as well as in online public relations and for social media exposure. If you have a property that lends itself to an interactive demo, then go for it. By giving attendees something to do, it gives you more time to interact and discuss their needs. As you can see, your promotional videos will take on a variety of formats for different purposes. By organizing the goals and needs clearly before creating the videos, you can economize on the development of your materials.

3. Take time away from the booth – This takes preparation because you need the staffing to cover you when you step away, as well as to decide how to use your precious time. Get clear on your priorities so you can visit booths of prime prospects and competitors first. Make friends with your neighbors and take time to attend sessions where your prospects are speaking or might attend. And in general, talk to everyone to meet new people and make new friends. Whether in line for coffee, lunch, the restroom, or sitting at a training session or on the escalator…talk to the people around you. This is really the best way to take full advantage of your networking opportunities. Someone you struck up a conversation with is much more likely to stop when passing your booth on the show floor—and even if they aren’t a prospect, you never know WHO THEY KNOW. Once you have accomplished your goals, definitely take time to roam and get inspired by ideas and connections that hadn’t yet occurred to you.

2. Ask for what you are looking for – While many people might consider it too forward or rude, you will not get what you want if you don’t ask for it. This is what separates the effective business people from the ineffective ones. Write down exactly what it is you want your new contacts to know and what you are asking them to do. Make sure you relay it often and to everyone in a professional way. Again, be assertive, not aggressive. If you are unclear with yourself about what you want others to do, they will not know how to help you even when they are willing. Practice your points until you have them memorized.

1. What do YOU have to offer – This seems like a very obvious instruction, but you would be surprised how few people actually express clearly what they are offering. Remember that industry events, especially trade shows, are jam-packed with influential and busy individuals. You want to talk with everyone you can. Because you never know if they have the means to help your business in a variety of ways. And remember, common courtesy goes a long ways! You may not be as well-known as many of these folks, but you are important too. You need to be very clear about what you have to offer, so that you know exactly what you bring to the relationship. Conversations with high-ranking execs will go must smoother when you know exactly what you have to offer them. It’s important to have a realistic and dynamic vision of what you bring to the table, so that moving forward you aren’t wasting anyone’s time, including your own.

There is still time to register for ‘Marketing Your Art, Characters, Designs & New Brands through Trade Shows,‘ which begins today at 10 a.m. PDT. If you can’t attend today, you will receive an MP3 audio file and 80-page PowerPoint presentation at the conclusion of the class. For more information and to register click here.

Note: This article ran originally in the Licensing Expo Newsletter. All Art Licensing will be available at the Resource Center in the Art + Design zone Booth #C-13 where I will be reporting on deals and events, assisting attendees in navigation of the trade show, providing free expert licensing advice and supporting the Art + Design category exhibitors. Hope to see you there!





Beyond the Booth – Top 10 Countdown – Making the Most of Your Trade Show Experience (Part 1)

21 04 2015

LE booth interaction at Resource CenterThis is Part 1 of a 2-part special blog, so watch tomorrow’s to read the conclusion of the countdown.

Once you have your booth design completed, there is a host of other preparations to attend to. Actually preparing for the show and going ‘beyond the booth’ will assure that you have made the most of the time and money you invest in the show.

I know there are many of you who are just starting out or exhibiting for the first time and may not have thought of these, especially numbers #1 and #2 (in tomorrow’s post)! And for those of you who are seasoned veterans, it never hurts to skim and review good tactics.

If you aren’t sure whether you are ready for exhibiting at a trade show, or are exhibiting for the first time, definitely read my article below and seriously consider joining my class tomorrow. ‘Marketing Your Art, Characters, Designs & New Brands Through Trade Shows,’ will help you maximize your investment. This class explains exactly how to make intelligent decisions about whether you are ready (OR NOT) to exhibit at trade shows, as well as how to choose the appropriate shows and what you need to do to go from ‘internal creative concepts’ to ‘creating external income.’

We will cover an invaluable checklist of 25 questions which MUST be answered BEFORE you should invest the time and money in a trade show and how to prepare for and exhibit at the shows and create marketing to drive traffic to your booth. I’m really excited to be offering this class. Even if tomorrow doesn’t work with your schedule you can register, ask your questions, and take the class at your convenience through our MP3 audio file and 80-page PowerPoint presentation. Here’s a link to our course schedule page to register and get more details.

Now…in two parts: Beyond the Booth – Top 10 Countdown – Making the Most of Your Trade Show Experience

10. Make the most of your time – This takes planning and organization before the show. Create a list of goals to be completed before the end of the event. It should include people you want to see, booths you want to visit and educational sessions that are important to attend. Think about your overall goals and the people who can help you achieve them. Then I recommend looking at the exhibitor’s list for those who could be potential strategic partners, affiliates or licensees, as well as gathering information on your biggest competition.

9. Schedule appointments before the show – You will need to cull your existing lead list, as well as review the prior and current exhibitors lists for the show you are attending. If you know of companies important to building your business then find their contact information. It never hurts to introduce yourself and ask if they are attending the show. It is essential to prioritize the lead lists, so that you can request and schedule appointments with the companies which are most important to you.

8. Create specific goals for your meetings – In addition to your overall goals, you should prepare specific goals for each of your individual meetings so you will be well prepared to make the most of them. I strongly suggest if possible to research the businesses and people prior to each meeting and customizing the presentation when appropriate.

7. Prepare your content – Once you have created a compelling booth that tells a story, make sure you have the content—the ‘goods’—to back it up. Have collections, stories, scripts, designs, images that are immediately licensable. If you are a ‘concept booth,’ prepare as much content (television scripts, book manuscript, style guide imagery, etc.) as you can to show prospective licensees what they would be licensing from you and why a partnership will be profitable.

6. Take the conversations as far as they can go – Make sure that your homework includes writing down and practicing the questions which will move deals forward. This is especially important for the meetings with people you have already met with or spoken to prior to the show, and are now renewing or continuing the conversations. For the new contacts, most trade show attendees will usually give you 5 minutes or less of their time. Create and be prepared to share a VERY brief presentation, and then listen (DO NOT TALK YOURSELF OUT OF THE SALE)! As a rule of thumb, let them lead the discussion—be present and assertive, never aggressive. Then…you can ask questions to move things forward and make sure, as your potential customer leaves the booth that you have defined and agreed upon the next steps.

Note: The countdown continues tomorrow with the top 5 ways to make the most of your trade show experience.





Your Primary Message Matters: You Can’t Close a Deal Until They Stop at Your Booth

5 03 2015

For those of you attending a trade show this spring or considering it in the near future, this blog is a must read.  It was originally ran in Licensing Expo’s email newsletter, but I felt it was such an important message that I didn’t want my blog audience to miss out.  

As you know, the ultimate goal of being an exhibitor at a trade show is to create income (and potentially great income) through the generation of agreements, deals and alliances. Therefore, one of the most important elements of your trade show booth is to clearly impart your brand message to potential clients, licensees and other show prospects.

We do this through logos, images and words (graphics, photos, art, characters, headlines, bullets, testimonials, etc.), as well as by making sure that the overall style of your booth (colors, design, furniture, music, lighting, etc.) successfully represents your property or brand.

Rinekwall Won Licensing Expo's 2014 'One to Watch' Contest

Rinekwall Won Licensing Expo’s 2014 ‘One to Watch’ Contest

It is also essential that you develop a well-trained and fully prepared staff. They need to be friendly and approachable, while at the same time exhibiting consistent professionalism, knowledge and sincere interest in both your property and whomever they are speaking with. Remember, you never know who you are talking to.

However, in my 20 years of attending countless trade shows, I have found that one of the biggest mistakes properties and artists make is not being very specific and clear in who they are, what their business is and what they do. This primary message is vital to everything you are trying to accomplish at the show. It is best expressed as the first and most prominent visual communication of your booth, and it must be designed to quickly catch the eye of your target attendees. No pressure, but the reality is, you only have about 2-3 seconds to capture their attention.

I can’t tell you how many times I have walked past a lovely booth, complete with graphics, flowers and great attention to detail, but their primary message was left unclear. Who and what they were, as well as what they were offering me was not easily understandable, so I walked right on by without a second thought.

I just have to say directly that it’s not my (or anyone else’s) job to try to figure out what you do. Those passing by your booth want and need to be able to rapidly obtain your information—before committing to stopping—and it’s entirely up to you to provide it!

It’s not that complicated or difficult to create an awesome booth which gets you plenty of attention and deals. It simply takes laser focus.

A clear branding message in your booth should include the following information, woven into an understandable and exciting display:
1) Primary objective
2) Who you are
3) What you do and offer
4) Who you want to reach

Zoonicorn's Booth at Toy Fair 2015, NYC

Zoonicorn’s Booth at Toy Fair 2015, NYC

Primary objective
In the initial planning stages, I suggest you decide what your specific goals and priorities are going to be and what exactly you are attempting to accomplish through attending the trade show. Then make sure that those points are adequately expressed in your overall vision of the booth AND precisely communicated.

To make this happen, think about all the reasons you originally chose to attend the trade show and write a list of the goals you want to achieve. The primary objective for you or your company should be brief and straight-forward, such as: ‘Get a television deal.’ or ‘Secure a licensing agent.’ Whatever it is, be specific and certain of your intentions and what you are investing your time, money, and efforts in.

Secondly, make sure you are willing to modify your goals, if necessary, so that they meet your needs, as well as the needs of potential clients and the realities of the marketplace. Remember you are trying to create a win-win situation; most deals are compromises between the creator and manufacturer or producer.

Then, stay focused and follow your plan. For example, don’t spend the majority of your budget and efforts on a smaller niche markets, rather than your largest potential. But also remember; never alienate anyone because you never know when or where the next big deal is going to come from.

Rarely would it be appropriate to simply write your primary objectives on your trade show booth walls. You need to know what they are, so you articulate them concisely within your overall communication. I think that successful communication means weaving your goals into the messages of ‘who you are,’ ‘what you do and have’ and ‘who you want to reach.’

Who you are
All booths need signage that is visible, readable and unmistakably identifiable, while including your business name, property name and company logo.

As a general rule, your brand should be prominently displayed and must be large enough to be read from across the aisle, as well as from all directions approaching your booth. Central art and images need to be able to be seen, AND READ, when casually walking down the aisle from at least 10-20 feet away.

If you have more than one property, then they each need their own prominent signage. Make sure you get a large enough booth to do justice to your multiple properties and concepts. You cannot do a great job of presenting, if you are crammed for space. In the trade show booth world, bigger is often better.

Launch Pad Booths, photo by Licensing Expo 2014

Launch Pad Booths, photo by Licensing Expo 2014

What you do and offer
No matter how big it is (or isn’t), your booth walls simply will not hold every tidbit of information you want to present to passersby. However, leaving folks confused as to what you do, and have to offer, is not a strong branding play. Somehow exactly what you have available to license needs to be communicated in words and images. Put the extra information and details in your leave-behind brochure.

As you look at your booth design, ask yourself if it is clear enough for a novice, or a person who is unfamiliar with your company and concept, to describe accurately what it is you are offering. I think they will be able to identify your purpose, if you create and advertise answers to these following four questions in your booth display:
What’s the concept?
What type of property is it?
What kind of audience reach do you have?
And most importantly…
What already exists that can be licensed immediately?

Many booths don’t present an easily understandable account of what they actually have to license: cartoons, a story, individual pieces of art, art collections, book series, or television concept. Don’t be one of them.

Also, make sure there is breathing room around your logo, words, wall art and characters, so that the messages are not jumbled and confused. If your running out of space and your information is getting too cluttered, either enlarge the booth, or move part of your message to your printed materials or multimedia presentation. Again, make sure all your visuals are consistent, well-defined and readable.

Who you want to reach
Lastly, and I cannot express the importance of this enough, you need to communicate quickly and clearly your message of who you want to do business with, to all those passing by your booth. This is the primary point of this article and, in my opinion, the most-often overlooked item in trade show booths today!

Each booth at a trade show has two target audiences to identify: 1) the consumer and 2) the trade customer. If your consumer audience is girls 5-8/K-2nd grade, then say so. Then you also need to identify what trade customer you are looking for, such as agents, XYZ-type of manufacturers, producers or publishers.

For example, if you are a new exhibitor looking for a reputable licensing agent, then make sure others know it. If you are an established company looking for appropriate new artists, then post it. Maybe you are a book-based property looking for television agents, producers and networks, then display that specific need.

In conclusion

Making sure that you have established your primary objective and unmistakably communicated who you are, what you do, what you offer and who you want to reach, will set the stage for an excellent and profitable trade event. Having covered these essential communication goals, you can now focus on the finer details and design elements of your booth to catch attention and drive home the sales.





New Year’s Advice for Entrepreneurial Artists and Creators

1 01 2015

With the New Year beginning today, I thought this would be a good time to share some key points I presented at one of the conferences I attended last year. I believe these are important reminders for entrepreneurs with an artistic or creative business.

J'net Smith meets with Zach Hampton creator of College Dayz online comic and Christiana Bleadsoe of G3EK for a mentoring session at the CEO Conference.

J’net Smith meets with Zach Hampton creator of College Dayz online comic and Christiana Bleadsoe of G3EK for a mentoring session at the CEO Conference.

I was honored to speak at the CEO (Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization) Conference in Orlando with other exceptional business owners. I spoke about licensing your concepts, characters and art, and then joined in on a panel, giving our best advice to some very energetic college students about entrepreneurial careers. The CEO Conference was co-hosted by SEA (Self-Employment in the Arts), an outstanding group which focuses on training for college students and those planning to run their own creative business and for whom I am an ‘Ambassador.’

I feel strongly that we need to share our talents and experience with students, young businesspeople, and burgeoning entrepreneurs because while they have more options than ever (a GOOD thing); they also have more options than ever (a TOUGH thing). For certainly, with more options, comes more complexity.

Since it’s part of my job to simplify and make understandable complex business issues, I thoroughly enjoyed being at the CEO Conference. It was a busy event, which made me think a great deal about the days when my career was just beginning to unfold and I had so many important decisions to make. As a young woman, one of these decisions was—‘Do I move to NYC with just a suitcase and a smile?’ I decided ‘yes’ and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I had to learn quickly and thoroughly the in’s and out’s of the global licensing arena in order to succeed in developing creative properties in NYC’s corporate environment and then beyond. Here are a few pieces of advice that I know will help many of you starting your own creative businesses:

(L to R) Ed Wimp, Greta Pope, J'net Smith and Mike Veny -   CEO Conference Panel on: Making a Living in the Arts, Sponsored by Self-Employment in the Arts

(L to R) Ed Wimp, Greta Pope, J’net Smith and Mike Veny – CEO Conference Panel: Making a Living in the Arts, Sponsored by Self-Employment in the Arts

1) Run your art business like a business — Some creators think that learning to be an entrepreneur crushes their creativity. Do NOT let this be you! Learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible, about how to make a viable income with your art by creating a viable business. Creating a business is actually much like creating your art. You must envision it, allow it to develop and then do it—bringing it into reality. You need to learn about business models, cash flow, marketing, sales, distribution, strategic alliances, contracts, negotiations, trends and more. You will then be one of the lucky few who actually DOES make a living in a career they love. There is no need to be a starving artist.

2) Find a PROVEN business model — First decide what you want to do and do it! There is nothing as draining as indecision. Find a proven business model that comes closest to what you want your business to be and then follow the example. Whether your creative path is through galleries, art/character licensing, government grants, or something else, you must work within the industries’ parameters and emulate the successful models in order to duplicate their achievements. Once your business is supporting itself, you can then change or expand your business to make things fit you, your dreams and goals more closely.

3) Don’t be afraid of selling yourself & marketing your business — It’s all about finding the right audience for your product (art, characters, designs, skills, services, etc.) and finding ways to profitably get it to the manufacturers, retailers and consumers. If you don’t develop a consistent marketing and sales plan and routine, maintaining it with a strong discipline, you won’t have a business. However, the good news is, if you do develop a serious dedication and continuous motivation, coupled with a strong learning curve and work ethic, you will almost certainly succeed.

4) Do as much as you can on your own — Listen to advice whenever you can. Pay for it if necessary. Attend trade shows, classes, events and conferences with your peers, industry experts and your (B2B and B2C) target audiences, as often as possible. Meet with business associates wherever opportunities present themselves. Then, get as much advice as possible on choosing business partners for all those things you can’t, or don’t want to, do yourself. Remember you have to spend money to make money; but you don’t have to spend a fortune to make a fortune. Learn your strengths and weaknesses, as well as how far you can push yourself. Then build your team by spending your time and energy on your strengths and delegating and investing in those whose strengths are your weaknesses.

I think that continually living outside your comfort zone is exactly why and how growth occurs and is where the brightest and best entrepreneurs are inevitably found. And remember the best advice anyone can ever give you is—‘go for it; you can do it!’

If any of you have questions about art and character licensing, business and brand development, please come and ask your questions during our next free Ask J’net Q&A.

NEW CLASSES FOR 2015 – SIGN UP TODAY
FREE ‘Ask J’net Q&A’
Tuesday, January 6, 2015 – 12 noon – 1 p.m. PDT/3 p.m. – 4 p.m. EDT

Start the New Year off right by getting your art, design and character licensing questions answered by J’net during this free one-hour ‘live’ phone event. You just sign-up here for the class. When registering, there is a place at the bottom of the form to write your questions. J’net will answer as many questions as possible during the hour, all you need to do is call in at the specific time to get the answers to your questions and learn from others’ questions. Please note: You will receive your Dial-in number and Access Code for the class the night before the event from All Art Licensing.

‘Launching and Leveraging Your Annual Marketing Plan’
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 — 12 noon – 1:30 p.m. PDT/3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. EDT
Price: $60

The New Year is traditionally the perfect time to launch your annual plan. If you don’t already have a plan or need new ideas to increase your licensing sales success in 2015, then I have created this course for you. The class will cover how to develop a marketing calendar for the year, including portfolio development, trade shows, sales timing and techniques, public relations, and social media. You will learn how to organize all of this into a comprehensive plan of action that you can manage and execute to improve your licensing sales results. The major emphasis of the class will be leveraging what you have in your current business to the next, more profitable level. Please note: This is a live audio event, which will also be video recorded. It will include a full PDF presentation booklet, as a part of the course. Any registered attendees who wish to apply to be included in our live stream video beta test, please contact me directly after registering. Included in the purchase price, all registered attendees will receive audio of the class for their personal review.

With the New Year here, it’s such a great time to take inventory of yourself, your habits, your business and goals so you can move to a new level! I look forward to connecting with you in 2015!








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